Collective Self Defence

Collective Self Defence

Right of States to take up arms to defend themselves from external force : historically well established as a Customary International Law

Article 51 of UN Charter : ‘the inherent right of … collective self defence’

YET, rather the right to collective self defence is an ambiguous concept!!

  • Bowett; Goodrich, Hambro and Simmons; Brownlie : merely a pooling of a number of individual rights of self defence OR
  • basis of comprehensive regional security systems
    • ex) if the former were the case, legal complications shall arise should Japan attempt to resort to force in defence of Republic of Korea, since actions against Republic of Korea by North Korea would in no way justify an armed reaction by Japan pursuant to its individual right of self defence. (R.O.K and U.S. are inter-changable here)

State Practice : adopted the second approach

  • NATO : ‘an attack upon one Party is treated as an attack upon all’
  • Warsaw Pact
  • The Republic of Nicaragua v. United States of America (Case concerning the Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua)
    • ‘the right to collective self defence was established in customary international law’ BUT, ‘the exercise of that right depended upon both (1) a prior declaration by the State concerned that it was the victim of an armed attack and(2) a request by the victim State for assistance
  • Invasion of Kuwait by Iraq (2 AUG 1990) and the Coalition

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